Madison + Vine: Toyota links with Phil Collins

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Advertisers have always leveraged popular music in their TV commercials, but Toyota Motor Sales USA is singing a different tune in a multi-million-dollar deal with Phil Collins that has been designed to also help launch his new record.

To boost record sales reminiscent of the collaboration between Jaguar Cars North America and Sting, Toyota will promote Mr. Collins' upcoming "Testify" CD and one of its songs, which broke last month in the brand's Avalon sedan commercial from Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles, Torrance.

Starting Oct. 28, Toyota is going as far as tagging the first few seconds of the spot with an MTV-style caption in the lower left corner identifying Mr. Collins' song, "Can't Stop Loving You" and the new CD, his first new solo album in six years.

Although the partnership is between Toyota and Mr. Collins, AOL Time Warner's Atlantic Recording Corp. is also placing stickers on 500,000 of the "Testify" CDs identifying it "as featured in the new Toyota Avalon commercial." Toyota's logo will also appear on promotional posters for the CD as well as other merchandising pieces. Atlantic will also send an e-card blast of the commercial to hundreds of thousands of consumers who have registered at its Web site. Recipients will be able to click onto an icon to hear a short interview with Mr. Collins about his new CD, said Vicky Germaise, senior VP-marketing at the record company. Atlantic is encouraging radio stations to discuss Toyota's use of his song. She predicted Toyota's tie-in would be a topic discussed when Mr. Collins makes the rounds the week of the CD's release on TV talk shows next month.

The partnership will be expanded in the coming months; Toyota has already signed up to use a second song from "Testify" in an upcoming ad, said Steve Sturm, VP-marketing at the brand. The automaker is also open to sponsoring or having some other involvement in a 2003 concert tour if it's in Mr. Collins' plans.

`real co-marketing'

Mr. Sturm said that while Toyota has used popular music before in TV ads, he said, it's "never crossed over" to cross marketing with any artists.

Atlantic is working with record stores for a post-holiday, in-store CD promotion displaying the Avalon. One possibility is awarding the car to whoever guesses the correct number of CDs in it.

Music industry sales are off by 10% this year, Ms. Germaise said, so "we are looking for new and innovative ways to get the music out to the public. We are very proactive in this area. Toyota is the most collaborative partner we ever had. This is real co-marketing."

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